How Formula 1, a math competition and one student’s passion for CS became an inspiration

How helped one Malaysian student discover his passion for computer science—and giving.

Christopher Raj Victor didn’t realize he had won a prize at first.

The 12-year-old living in Selangor, Malaysia participated in an informal math competition organized by a friend’s mother at a local playground, and tied for second place. He was asked to come collect his winnings, and rode his bike uphill to retrieve his award. His prize for solving 20/25 math problems correctly was 10 Malaysian ringgits, or roughly $2.50 U.S. dollars.

Christopher poses with swag. (Photo courtesy of Christopher Raj Victor)

His first thought was to donate his newly-earned winnings, but to where? As a Formula 1 racing fan, Christopher admired , who had auctioned off a racing helmet to benefit the . The Brazilian organization seeks to create educational and economic opportunities for young Brazilians, and takes its name from famed Formula 1 Ayrton Senna da Silva, who tragically died in a race-related crash in 1994.

Christopher was inspired by Gasly’s fundraiser and the organization’s focus on education, and so he decided to do something similar: his winnings would go to, which is where he got his start learning computer science.

“I first started coding in an event … using From that point my passion for coding grew,” Christopher wrote in an explanation for his donation. “I now take coding classes and I know HTML, Javascript and I am learning Python. This website is where it all started. I donated today to make a difference.”

Developing a lifelong love of computer science

Christopher first discovered when he was 9 years old. His school didn’t offer computer science classes at the time, so he studied on his own using tutorials and lessons from other providers over the next few years. Then, his school began participating in the , which allows students around the globe to choose from that teach computer science concepts. The (MDEC) — a International Partner — has been driving the Hour of Code movement in the country.

“The is what started it all for me,” Christopher told “From there, I went to a coding class where I learned HTML, Javascript and Python.” He now says his favorite tutorial is , which teaches basic machine learning concepts without the need for any actual code.

Christopher built about tourism in Malaysia.

Christopher will turn 13 this year, and he says he hopes to study computer science in college and eventually land a job in the industry. Malaysia’s technology industry is growing, although at a slower pace than desired, according to a published by . However, tech skills and jobs in the industry are some of the highest-paying in the country, according to the report.

For now, Christopher says he is content to continue exploring computer science and mastering his skills. In addition to taking CS classes, he also makes games on a platform called Roblox, which allows users to program and play games created by other users. He says his games have more than 650 plays.

For him, the creative aspects of computer science are key.

“I think code really expands my mind,” he says. “You need to know how languages are organized and learn a new way of thinking. I think computer science gives you a lot of freedom once you understand those basic rules.”

A kind gesture inspires staff and community

What started as a small gift, given generously, inspired staff to match Christopher’s support with personal contributions from team members across the organization.

We invite you to join us in celebrating Christopher’s learning journey by making the most generous gift you can by June 30, 2021 by visiting .

Your support helps bring free computer science education to every student in every classroom, reaching students like Christopher in Malaysia and beyond.

Please contact or (206) 593–5521 if you have any questions or need assistance.

And as for other students who want to begin their computer science journey, Christopher has some advice. “Start with block coding and then move on to language coding,” he says, recounting his own path to getting started in CS. “And of course, make sure you have a passion for it. It’s always good to have a passion for what you’re doing.”

-Kirsten O’Brien,® is dedicated to expanding access to computer science increasing participation by young women and students from other underrepresented groups.